People tend to date with emotions, or are seeking the wrong thing. Let’s face it, we all want someone to treat us with respect, but as we get older and tend to add layers of our own personal shortcomings and anxiety, the possibility of finding someone can seem overwhelming and daunting.
As a therapist, I see many men and women who are #seekinglove and connection. The challenges of finding healthy people, while also healing from our own internal wounds and balancing the social distancing of a global pandemic is a tall order. Although there are many books, podcasts, websites and guides that help you “#findconnection”, what does that mean? For many people, it’s an intimate connection - someone who you can wake up to, hold your hand, snuggle or do other adult-approved activities so familiarly termed as “the FWB”. For many others, it’s finding someone who views dating as a way of expanding the mind, not necessarily just a physical connection.
True connection is deeply rooted in organicity. We all have opinions and perspectives, so I asked my partner, from a man’s perspective, what men are truly looking for. Reflecting back, I now see that as complicated as we tend to make some of the world’s simplest problems, we tend to ignore what’s right in front of us- what people are telling us and the fact is, the map is right there - we just tend to want to travel our own road. Trust me, finding a partner who’s honest, keeps you accountable and is loyal is a tough combination to find. Honestly, I’m grateful to have found someone who is willing to put up with a therapist as a partner and love me unconditionally.
Here are some suggestions from a man's perspective and some considerations for the search to find true love during a global pandemic.
1. Know What You are Looking for:
From a guy’s perspective, the most frustrating thing to hear is when a woman goes into dating “what is he going to do for me?" Men want someone who can have their own assets and value, assisting them with improving themselves. Find someone who you connect with that can “expand my mind”. State openly that if you are simply looking for someone to be intimate with - be honest with yourself. If you are looking for someone who is truly wanting to connect with you, it’s important to know what you are looking for and be honest. Set yourself apart and set your intentions.
My Perspective: He’s got a point. Women- if you’re not sure of what YOU are looking for - how can you expect to find it? Be clear and direct!
2. Know Why You're Dating:
Dating should be fun - but know why you’re dating and what you are
looking for. If you’re dating to get over your ex - you’ll end up hurting someone else, while seeking revenge. For many people, dating can be an experience. Go into the first date with your intentions. If a woman goes on a date with the intention of being married or finding someone who wants kids, make sure that you’re okay with that before the second date. If you’re looking for someone who doesn’t want to get married - clear the intentions before wasting someone else’s time or your own.
My perspective: Read the dating app information ladies, if a guy is unsure - he’s telling you he’s not interested in a relationship. If he’s unavailable, or doesn’t seem to be interested, that’s a good sign. Move along and find someone else. There are many fish in the sea, sometimes it’s not our bait, the fish just aren’t always hungry.
3. Communicate if Chivalry is Acceptable or Wanted:
When going on a date, according to my man source, “chivalry needs to be clarified” - if you want someone to pay, or want someone to do things for you, then you need to communicate it. If you are not someone
who is comfortable with that, let the man know. Don’t expect that all men are going to pay for things, however, there’s not always a need to “sell” your independence. Show up with intention, but let your confidence show through your actions not your words.
My perspective: If you want to split the check or bar tab, just say so. Some men are raised to pay for a woman; in my case, I was always taught to pay for yourself and be able to show up. Sometimes that’s a turn off - Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
4. Why Men Ghost
This is a question that I get all the time from women in my practice. It’s this new phenomenon - we start talking, or there is a disconnect and then all of a sudden, the person disappears. According to men, “ sometimes
ghost because they are bored - “if we have a date and I’ve had a long day, if the conversation was just “okay”, then I won’t show up”. Ghosting is “I’ve allowed myself to get caught up in the day to day and I won’t allow someone to interrupt”. Men ghost for avoidance - they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or there is an empathy which guys don’t want someone to know that they haven’t been a piece of shit”. From a woman’s perspective, many times we don’t recognize that if the connection isn’t there, it’s better to bow out. But the only caveat is that communication is essential, if you are not interested - send the message, state the truth and then give the other person the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to have some clarity without uncertainty.
My perspective: This is a tough one! I think this goes for everyone - if you’re not interested, have human kindness and respect. You might get a long paragraph, but leaving someone not knowing is the worst. Take a page out of Emily Post and give the other person the benefit of the doubt. They’ll thank you for it and the 50+ future partners who they meet.
5. Filters and Pictures:
When I asked about pictures, my man source stated, "It’s important to have some pictures that are natural and organic is important to meet someone - we all have a degree of vanity there is a human aspect of indulgence. If every picture is unnatural, then many men are going to pass by”. From a woman’s perspective, listen, ladies, at the end of the day, men are going to see what you look like when you roll over one morning after a wonderful evening of adult activities. True love happens when you're not looking - it’s when your hair is a mess, or your sweatshirt is wrinkled and when you look over at your person and see that even as they are clumsily doing something or using their pointer finger to text message, that’s love. Filters should enhance your look, but should not create lines or an unnatural glow that doesn’t exist. Be confident in who you are, and those who are unable to see your flaws or the additional quirks, won’t swipe left, they’ll embrace eerie single flaws and all.
My Perspective: Ladies, and gentlemen here’s the reality - eventually one morning you’ll roll over and meet this person as you’re nursing a hangover or after a late night of canoodling. Filters enhance, but natural beauty is who you want to take home to your parents, meet your friends. Start off honest and leave the “Hidalgo filter” alone. If there’s mutual attraction it won’t be due to the additional beauty mark that Snapchat added or the Post Malone face tattoos.
6. Qualities that are Important:
According to my man source, “while being physically active is important, connection is crucial.
If I like you, we’re going out, if not, then it won’t happen”. It could be a recipe and ingredients of different combinations of qualities - it varies depending on different people”. Here’s the thing. Qualities are everything - we all will eventually age, but at the end of the day if the connection isn’t organic, it won’t last long. I personally have been in relationships where the intellectual isn’t there, but the intimate is, and at the end of the day, I want to be able to communicate and talk to the person that I love, not just speak their physical love language. When you’re dating it’s important to have an idea of what you want - organic means that it isn’t forced. It’s not with someone who you feel that it’s a chore to spend time with and every time that you see them, you’re anticipating the next moment when you can see them and kiss them.
My Perspective: Honestly qualities of any relationship are crucial, however, if the connection is not there, you can’t force it. Sometimes we want so badly to be with someone that we end up sabotaging ourselves and the other person, because we’re chasing what we never received from our exes, or even our childhood wounds. If you take one thing from this, organic connection is natural, you’ll feel it and it won’t be hard.
7. Don’t be too Accessible:
Allow time for yourself to have boundaries and work on finding ways that you can set boundaries; it’s important to have friends or be busy at work, but don’t make yourself too accessible, it’s okay to work and it’s okay to have friends who are dating. They should compliment your schedule, they shouldn’t be another task or something that you have to stress with. Sometimes when we meet someone and get excited about the connection, it’s easy to put our own interests and needs to the side. The bottom line is if you’re always available how can someone enjoy the thrill of the chase? If your future partner doesn’t have friends, or is always able to hang out, what happens when you have your first fight? Who supports them other than you? Remember, be available but not accessible to every single text or event. Sometimes it’s good to allow another person to miss you.
My Perspective: This was hard for me to learn, honestly in my relationships, and we all can get lost in the excitement of being what I tend to call “lust drunk”. Before we go back to the bar for another cup of lust, remember that part of the attraction is confidence and not codependency. Allow yourself to have hobbies, show the potential partner that there is life outside of you, and remember they should compliment your life, not complete it entirely.
8. Work on Your Own Personal Issues before Committing to a Relationship:
Sometimes we all have that one person who treated us badly or wronged us and we never ever
forgave them. Sometimes we have those relationships, where we have just never been able to stop the ruminating thoughts about how we felt when we were left or abandoned. If you have some sort of storage mentally and emotionally, please save every future partner the stress of having to unpack all of those boxes for you. As a therapist, I can’t tell you how many times I see single men and women who ask “where are all the healthy people that are single?”. My answer: They are in therapy. They are working and running and exercising and doing the self-care assignments that I suggest. They aren’t hanging around waiting for someone who is emotionally unavailable and frankly, they are working on living their best life with the hope that someone comes along, but if not, they are okay being independent and alone. Sometimes we are seeking something that we need to find for the US. Not for the next person.
For those who are looking for a partner, the best advice is making sure that you’re good with yourself. You have found your needs, your flaws and the storage facility of unresolved childhood trauma and everything else packed in their from college and life experience is at least pending a possible re-organization or purge. My partner and I always talk about the importance of having a life that is filled with travel, excitement and family, but at the end of the day without therapy (therapists DO go to therapy by the way), it won’t survive. Sometimes we need to just have that safe place that isn’t on the phone or text with our family, friends and those who know us. We need that person who can keep us accountable to ourselves and can remind us of our strengths and our flaws.